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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-16

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Major banks to cut interest rates Monday
  • [02] New convergence plan sees higher growth
  • [03] Equities slump, shrugging off rate cuts
  • [04] Bond turnover drops in holiday mood
  • [05] EOT ponders new bureau in China
  • [06] New major private healthcare centre to open by April 2000
  • [07] Slight drop in petrol, diesel and heating oil up
  • [08] New HEPO president
  • [09] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [10] Simitis defends Helsniki summit decision in Parliament debate
  • [11] Aegean transports network touted
  • [12] Tsohatzopoulos: Only territorial dispute with Turkey involves continental shelf
  • [13] To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers
  • [14] Gov't pleased with latest poll
  • [15] G. Papandreou outlines positions on eradicating illegal drug use
  • [16] Zakynthos' Lagana Bay designated a nat'l marine park
  • [17] Greece-France agreement on re-admission of illegals

  • [01] Major banks to cut interest rates Monday

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    The central bank yesterday lowered its key money market intervention rates by 0.75 percentage point, spurring the country's two largest commercial banks to announce across-the-board rate cuts effective on Monday. Other banks are expected to follow suit.

    State run National Bank of Greece and private Alpha Credit Bank announced rate cuts of 0.50 percentage point on most deposit rates and 0.75 percentage point on many lending rates.

    Both banks, which are blue chips on the Athens Stock Exchange, will lower their savings deposit rate to 7.50 percent from 8.0 percent.

    National Bank is to reduce rates on consumer and personal loans to 15.50 percent and 16.25 percent respectively.

    Floating rates on home loans are to drop by one percentage point to 11.75 percent, and operating capital loans by 0.75 point, also falling to 11.75 percent.

    Alpha Credit Bank will reduce its rates on personal loans by 1.25 percentage point to 17.75 percent.

    Finally, the Bank of Piraeus Group will cut its loan and deposit rates by roughly the same amount, effective on January 1, 2000. The banks in the group are Piraeus, Xiosbank and Macedonia-Thrace.

    Bank of Greece gives signal : The Bank of Greece yesterday lowered its main intervention rates by 0.75 percentage point, the second reduction in just under two months, bringing domestic short-term loan rates closer to their euro-zone equivalents.

    After a meeting of its Monetary Policy Council, the central bank announced a 0.75 percent reduction in the weekly intervention rate for two-week funds to 10.75 percent from 11.50 percent.

    The Bank of Greece uses the rate in a tender most Wednesdays to help regulate liquidity in the interbank market.

    It also slashed the primary overnight lending rate by 0.75 percentage point to 10.25 percent from 11.0 percent; and the secondary overnight rate by 0.25 percentage point to 9.0 percent from 9.25 percent.

    In addition, the central bank reduced the Lombard rate by 0.75 percentage point to 12.25 percent from 13.0 percent.

    On October 21, the Bank of Greece lowered key intervention rates by half a percentage point across the board.

    The Monetary Policy Council said in a statement that its decision to go ahead with the rate cuts took into account the consolidation of core inflation around 2.0 percent, a level it was expected to hold in coming months. In addition, the level of ave rage annual harmonised inflation was promising.

    Finally, the M4N liquidity index was expected to continue its slowdown, and the central bank had taken into account the government's updated European Union economic convergence programme, the statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] New convergence plan sees higher growth

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greece sees its gross domestic product (GDP) rising by 3.8 percent in 2000, growing to 4.3 percent in 2002, the country's latest European Union convergence programme said.

    Submitted to the European Union's executive Commission yesterday, the 1999- 2002 programme forecast that the deficit would fall from 1.2 percent of GDP to 0.2 percent in 2001.

    In 2002, a surplus of 0.2 percent would emerge, accompanied by a decrease in the public debt and inflation. The programme, a successor to the 1994- 1999 plan, was presented to reporters by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that a new central parity for the drachma in the European exchange rate mechanism had yet to be set but a decision would be taken in the next six months.

    GDP growth, at 3.5 percent this year, was expected to "improve markedly" over the next few years, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    He underlined that the government's growth targets were "conservative".

    Similar rates of growth were projected for incomes. This year, per capita income in Greece was 69 percent of the Community average. Next year, the percentage will rise to 73 percent.

    The general government deficit will fall to 100.3 percent of GDP in 2000, 99.5 percent in 2001 and 98 percent in 2002.

    Mr. Papantoniou said structural reforms in the economy - deregulation and privatisation - would continue.

    He cited deregulation of the telecommunications and electricity markets in 2000 and 2001 as examples.

    Inflation, the critical criterion for Greece's inclusion in economic and monetary union, was projected to fall to 2.1 percent in 2000 and stabilise there for the next year, before falling marginally to 2.0 percent in 2002.

    The levels were fully compatible with changes anticipated in the European Union's inflation rate, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    Investments would remain at high levels as a percentage of GDP. Investment is already 25 percent of GDP, one of the highest rates in the European Union.

    Employment was expected to grow, with a resulting fall in unemployment. The current 10.5 percent unemployment rate was projected to fall to 8.7 percent in 2002.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that projections for a rise in employment were not attained in the previous convergence programme due to a large influx of migrants, offsetting the new jobs created.

    The minister said there were no plans to increase current levels of taxation. Government policies on the distribution of wealth would eventually lead to a reduction in taxation, he noted.

    Revaluation by June at the latest : Decisions on changing the drachma's central parity in the European exchange rate mechanism (ERM) and a final decision on whether Greece was eligible to enter the euro zone were expected by June 2000 at the latest, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    The minister said that a discussion was under way with other EU member- states on a revaluation of the drachma but that no decision had been taken yet.

    The deadline for shifting the drachma's central parity against the euro in the ERM was June, when an EU summit would also decide whether Greece qualified for entry into the euro zone, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Equities slump, shrugging off rate cuts

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Equities dropped sharply on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with turnover reaching higher levels than in the previous session.

    The market had already discounted rate cuts by the central bank and did not react to yesterday's decline, which also spilled over into commercial bank rates.

    However, analysts were unable to explain why the market dropped so sharply in higher trade.

    The general index ended 2.54 per cent down at 5,432.34 points. Turnover was around 319.087 billion drachmas. The parallel market index for small capitalisation stocks was down 4.53 per cent at 1,858.73 points.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.32 per cent lower at 2,768.88 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.88 pct), Leasing (-2.71 pct), Insurance (-3.56 pct), Investment (-2.62 pct), Construction (-5.56 pct), Industrials (-2.17 pct), Miscellaneous (-1.76 pct) and Holding (-4.15 pct). Of 323 shares traded decline rs led advancers at 295 to 27 with 1 issue remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stock was Aktor, which transferred a block of its shares to Hellenic Technodomiki as part of a merger deal.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 23,470 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 25, 600, Titan Cement Company (common) at 39,140, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,795, Intracom at 13,830, Panafon at 3,995 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,815.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Bond turnover drops in holiday mood

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Turnover in the domestic secondary bond market dropped sharply yesterday and prices edged down on late profit-taking, in line with the advent of the Christmas holiday period each year.

    In the previous session, the market had brushed off a statement by Prime Minister Costas Simitis that the government would decide early next year on revaluation of the drachma's central parity against the euro.

    Players had already discounted the move, traders said.

    The market has been fuelled recently by the planned revaluation in the European exchange rate mechanism, which, according to Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos, is scheduled for June 2000, and according to National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, in the next six months.

    Greece is to apply to join the EU's euro zone in March 2000, with a summit in June expected to endorse the application for entry on January 1, 2001.

    The market also was unmoved by cuts in the central bank's intervention rates yesterday by 0.75 percentage point.

    It had already priced in a reduction of around 0.50 percentage point.

    The deeper cut is expected to give the market more impetus after the holiday season, analysts said.

    In recent sessions, the forward spread for the next 12 months between Greek benchmark 10-year bonds and equivalent German paper has been estimated at 50 basis points, coinciding with Greece's planned entry into the euro zone by January 1, 2001.

    According to analysts, the yield spread over equivalent German paper is likely to drop to 100 basis points by the end of the year, revising downwards an earlier estimate of 120 basis points.

    The benchmark 10-year bond continued to trade above par, showing a yield of 6.25 percent from more than 6.17 percent a day earlier.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 120 basis points from 119 basis points a day earlier and a record 116 basis points on Monday.

    Turnover through the Bank of Greece's electronic trading system was 60 billion drachmas from 144 billion drachmas in the previous session and 234 billion drachmas on Monday.

    In yesterday's trade, sell orders accounted for more than 30 billion drachmas of turnover after investors mainly from abroad raked in their profits.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] EOT ponders new bureau in China

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT) Secretary General Evgenios Yiannakopoulos told a press conference yesterday that EOT is looking forward to developing tourist relations with the People's Republic of China.

    Mr. Yiannakopoulos recently returned from a week-long trip to China at the head of a five-member EOT delegation, which was hosted by the Chinese Tourism Organisation. It was the first organised contact between the two countries in the tourist sector.

    EOT is considering opening an office in China, possibly in Shanghai, and also intends to submit a relevant file to Beijing enabling Greece to be included on the list of official tourist destinations abroad which Chinese nationals may visit as tourists. Travelling in groups for Chinese citizens is permitted to countries characterised as "tourist destinations" by Beijing.

    Mr. Yiannakopoulos said he intends to make corresponding trips to Egypt and Cyprus, where EOT also plans to open offices.

    Referring to the outcome of last week's Helsinki summit in terms of Greek tourism, Mr. Yiannakopoulos cited benefits when there is calm and regional stability and, consequently, the new development in Greek-Turkish relations will allow tourism in Greece to develop at a speedier rate.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] New major private healthcare centre to open by April 2000

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Inter-Balkan Medical Centre, a 424-bed subsidiary of the Athens Medical Centre, will be operational by April 2000, the group announced yesterday.

    Speaking at a meeting of the Union of Institutional Investors, AMC vice- president Vassilis Apostolopoulos said the group also planned to open diagnostic centres in Sofia, Skopje, Belgrade, Tirana and Podgorica, which would refer patients to the Thessalo niki centre for hospitalisation if necessary.

    The group already operates such a centre in Bucharest since 1997.

    In a strategic partnership with Interamerican, Greece's leading life insurance firm, the group has formed the Eurosite consortium, which plans to set up a 45-billion drachma multifunctional medical facility in Paiania, east of Athens, with a 750-bed cap acity, conference centre and hotel.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Slight drop in petrol, diesel and heating oil up

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Prices of gasoline will decrease as of today and for a week, while those of diesel and heating oil will increase.

    According to announcements by the development ministry and the Hellenic Petroleum S.A. company, prices of super gasoline will decrease by 0.8 drachmas per litre and those of unleaded gasoline by 0.8 drachmas per litre. Prices of diesel will increase by 1.5 drachmas per litre and those of heating oil by 0.6 drachmas per litre (for quantities over 1,000 litres).

    Athens News Agency

    [08] New HEPO president

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    The new president of the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) was appointed yesterday, with former PASOK deputy Panagis Benetatos getting the nod. Mr. Benetatos, who was appointed by the national economy ministry, was previously the head of the Industrial Reconstruction Organisation (OAE).
    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: December 15, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             326.556 334.128
    Can.Dollar            220.164 225.269
    Australian Dlr        207.030 211.830
    Pound Sterling        524.074 536.224
    Irish Punt            415.422 425.054
    Pound Cyprus          568.991 582.184
    Pound Malta           760.115 791.787
    Turkish pound (100)     0.055   0.057
    French franc           49.877  51.033
    Swiss franc           204.540 209.283
    Belgian franc           8.110   8.298
    German Mark           167.280 171.158
    Finnish Mark           55.026  56.302
    Dutch Guilder         148.464 151.906
    Danish Kr.             44.031  45.052
    Swedish Kr.            38.025  38.907
    Norwegian Kr.          40.305  41.239
    Austrian Sh.           23.776  24.328
    Italian lira (100)     16.897  17.288
    Yen (100)             315.605 322.922
    Spanish Peseta          1.966   2.012
    Port. Escudo            1.632   1.670
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              326.556 334.128
    Montreal              220.164 225.269
    Sydney                207.030 211.830
    London                524.074 536.224
    Dublin                415.422 425.054
    Nicosia               568.991 582.184
    Paris                  49.877  51.033
    Zurich                204.540 209.283
    Brussels                8.110   8.298
    Frankfurt             167.280 171.158
    Helsinki               55.026  56.302
    Amsterdam             148.464 151.906
    Copenhagen             44.031  45.052
    Stockholm              38.025  38.907
    Oslo                   40.305  41.239
    Vienna                 23.776  24.328
    Milan                  16.897  17.288
    Tokyo                 315.605 322.922
    Madrid                  1.966   2.012
    Lisbon                  1.632   1.670
    
    Athens News Agency

    [10] Simitis defends Helsniki summit decision in Parliament debate

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    The recent Helsinki EU summit's "historic" decisions on the terms for Turkey's candidacy are a vindication of Greek policy, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday in Parliament.

    "Greece attained all its aims in Helsinki, achieving a real and not virtual candidacy for Turkey. This, on the part of Turkey, implies acceptance of all criteria applying to the candidacy of any other country...It also implies acceptance of the principles of international law and treaties in foreign affairs as well as of the procedures for the peaceful resolution of differences through the International Court at The Hague, so that the rules of the game are clear," he said during an off-the-agenday debate on foreign policy. The debate was held at the request of Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas.

    The prime minister said if differences with Turkey were not peacefully resolved on the basis of the UN Charter, the candidate country would have to refer them to The Hague within a reasonable period of time.

    "Turkey cannot drag issues on for years... The Union can even intervene and point out that the reasonable period of time has run out, and the need for referring the differences of a candidate country to the Court at The Hague, " he said.

    "Turkey's decision to accept the text of the European Council and Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's attendance certify its endorsement of the principles, terms and conditions which must govern its behaviour from now on," he added.

    He also expressed the view that the EU decision would contribute to the growth of a positive climate for cooperation in the region.

    Mr. Simitis forecast that Cyprus would gain EU membership as soon as negotiations were completed, but this should not lead to a relaxation of the efforts for a solution of the island-republic's political problem.

    Tsovolas : On his part, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas called the Helsinki agreement text "unholy", and something that damages the interests of the Greek people.

    He also accused the government, saying that with its stance it gave Turkey what it could not receive by any other Greek government before 1991, adding that this stance provides Turkey the right to negotiate an amendment to the Lausanne Treaty.

    Discussing the text of the agreement, he said any item of disagreement between Greece and Turkey will be a negotiated item which will then be taken to The Hague, therefore altering the standing Greek foreign policy position that the only issue to be neg otiated with Turkey is that of the Aegean's continental shelf.

    Karamanlis : Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis predicted that Greece will be in a worst position now regarding Greek- Turkish affairs.

    "The premier admitted that from 2005 on there will not be a mechanism of real penalties to force Turkey into compliance to international legality before its full accession (to the Union).

    "In other words, we will be in a worst starting point than today, meanwhile, our negotiating position will weaken within the EU," he said.

    "...for the first time Europe accepts the standing positions of Turkey and that is done with our participation," he said.

    "The European Council seems to recognise and legalise the Turkish territorial claims, leading us to across-the-board negotiations with Turkey without terms and preconditions, something that is its standing position for the last 25 years. There's a great truth: Greece is the only EU member- state threatened,"Mr. Karamanlis said.

    Papariga : On her part, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga claimed that the Helsinki decision benefits multi-nationals who want to invest in Turkey, as well as several Greek and Turkish entrepreneurs and EU leaders who want a closer rel ation with the region by controlling the flow of oil from the former soviet republics. She also mentioned the "imperialists, who want to cover up the Greek Turkish differences."

    She also said Greece surrendered sovereign rights in Helsinki on the altar of a "new world order".

    "The International Court of Justice at The Hague, to which the so-called Greek-Turkish border differences are led, is controlled and is not recognised by four European Union countries," she said.

    Finally, she noted that the Helsinki decisions do not include mention of the invasion and occupation of part of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish forces.

    Constantopoulos : Finally, Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos referred to what he called a "positive compromise" that nevertheless hides certain dangers.

    "The Helsinki decision is a turning point in the course of the European Union and Greek-Turkish relations, and without being petty, I called a positive development," he noted, while stressed however, that "pro-blems continue to exist for security in the Aegean and Cyprus.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Aegean transports network touted

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greece aims at the creation of an "Aegean metro system" connecting the Greek islands of the Aegean with the Asia Minor coast as a corridor of European transport networks, Aegean Minister Stavros Benos said yesterday.

    Addressing a press conference on the island of Lesvos, Mr. Benos said "our aim to create a network of combined transport, the 'Metro of the Aegean', which will lead to stability of transports...

    "The 'Metro of the Aegean' has been planned based on the principle of connecting the cities of islands with ports and airports of the (Asia Minor) mainlandI" the minister said.

    He also concluded that the plan to be drafted will be a result of a study.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Tsohatzopoulos: Only territorial dispute with Turkey involves continental shelf

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Apart from delineation of the Aegean's continental shelf, Greece has no outstanding territorial disputes with Turkey, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told a session of the Parliamentary committee on national defence and foreign affairs yesterday.

    "We say that there is nothing apart from the continental shelf," he stressed.

    He added that none of Turkey's unilateral claims of territorial ambiguity "had any basis in law".

    "We will not be a party to any other issue being referred to The Hague, without this meaning we are able to stop Turkey from seeking recourse to the court," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that Turkey had yet to accept The Hague court's jurisdiction.

    The minister was speaking on the general outcome of last Friday's EU summit in Helsinki at his briefing of the committee.

    His comments came in relation to the EU text's urging that all outstanding border differences and related disputes be resolved on the basis of peaceful resolution of differences, in accordance with the UN Charter.

    Athens News Agency LONDON 16/12/1999 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Press and Media Ministry General Secretary Yiannis Nikolaou yesterday addressed British MPs at the House of Commons.

    Mr. Nikolaou's address, entitled "Get to know Greeks better", focused on the recent changes in the Greek economy, infrastructure and development.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA) Dear friends,

    As you are aware, technological developments in the mass media sector are rapid. Today, all the news services are offered online. The "electronic newspaper" supplements, and in many cases replaces, the printed newspaper. Contact via e-mail also affords the ability for direct communication.

    These developments, as many others, have also influenced our own work here at Athens News Agency (ANA), which is adapting all its services to the new technology. In the framework of these changes, the "Daily Bulletin" will P as of Jan. 2, 2000 P be conv erted from a printed to an electronic medium for our subscribers.

    With this change, our subscribers will: a) receive our news items online, at the moment the news is breaking. b) receive the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability to print it out if they wish or simply view on screen. c) receive the "Bulletin" either via the paid ANA services on the Internet, or via e-mail sent to a subscriber's e-mail address. d) also have the ability, for a small surcharge, to utilise the ANA's English-language data bank, which contains all the news items appearing in the "Daily Bulletin" since 1992.

    We believe that these changes, which correspond with the new function of the international and national news agencies, will satisfy subscribers' needs for immediate and credible information. In order to subscribe to this service, you must have a PC and a modem, or an e-mail address.

    All who wish to continue receiving our services must prepare for these changes which, as stated, will commence on Jan. 2, 2000.

    Takis Mantis, the director of ANA's informatics and telecommunications department, is at your disposal for any technical information on tel: 64.00.560 and 64.00.038.

    I sincerely hope all our subscribers will adapt to these necessary technological changes.

    Andreas Christodoulides

    ANA General Director

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Gov't pleased with latest poll

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    The government yesterday welcomed the results of an opinion poll showing that ruling PASOK party had pulled out ahead of the main opposition in voters' preferences, saying however, that it would not be resting on the results.

    "The government is judged in the elections and not by opinion polls. For this reason, with modesty and seriousness, it will continue its work to gain the full confidence of the Greek people," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    The MRB poll showed more people planning to cast votes for ruling PASOK than for main opposition New Democracy (ND) for the first time since PASOK's last electoral win, in 1996.

    Those intending on casting a ballot for PASOK numbered 31.6 per cent, compared to 30.6 per cent planning to vote for ND. Those still undecided were counted at 21.6 per cent.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis received the confidence of 41.9 per cent of respondents, compared to 31.2 per cent for ND leader Costas Karamanlis.

    Mr. Reppas noted that the poll had not included respondents on the islands, in which PASOK was traditionally strong.

    "If the count had been taken after the (Helsinki) summit," Mr. Reppas said, " the results would have been even better and more pleasing."

    Athens News Agency

    [15] G. Papandreou outlines positions on eradicating illegal drug use

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Deputy Health Minister Theodoros Kotsonis yesterday reiterated their positions on combatting illegal drug use in Greece.

    In addressing Parliament's inter-party committee, Mr. Papandreou stressed the need for society to "free" itself from "taboos", adding that he is "a supporter of heroin distribution by health centres and the disassociation of cannabis from (the) hard drugs (category)".

    The foreign minister noted that his statements expressed his personal views, while noting that Greece should follow suit with trends existing in western Europe.

    He said the foreign ministry is especially interested in the subject, as the illegal drug trade involves various international criminal rings.

    The Greek minister also noted that Athens will soon sign agreements with Ankara regarding the combatting of the illegal drug trade, while similar initiatives will be implemented with Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)

    On his part, Mr. Kotsonis explained that heroin distribution to long-time users by health centres will take place only under specific conditions and only when the user is at an advanced stage of dependence. He stressed that the success of such a program me can only be guaranteed with the consent of society, "otherwise it will fail".

    "In no way did I say 'give heroin to the people', this is populism, aiming at different goals, which I will not serve," Mr. Kotsonis said.

    In conclusion, he reassured the committee that Organisation Against Drug Abuse (OKANA) programmes will continue to operate normally and will be expanded.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Zakynthos' Lagana Bay designated a nat'l marine park

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    The process of designating a national marine park on the Ionian island of Zakynthos was completed with the signing of the relevant presidential decree early this month, the environment ministry stated yesterday.

    Environment Undersecretary Theodoros Koliopanos said the decree provided significant regulations for the Lagana Bay area, the nesting ground of the Caretta-caretta loggerhead sea turtle and the Monachus-monachus Mediterranean seal, also known as the mon k seal.

    The target of that process was to ensure conditions of maximum protection of the sensitive eco-systems of Laganas Bay and the area's sustainable development, he said.

    A presidential decree for the establishment of a marine park on Zakynthos was signed on Dec. 1, after years of efforts by environmental and other organisations, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announcement stated earlier this month.

    The aim of the park's establishment is to efficiently protect one of the most important natural habitats in the Mediterranean of the two endangered species.

    For the creation of the Marine Park, the WWF's Greek branch purchased in 1994 a 32-hectare expanse of land surrounding Sekania beach, one of the most important Caretta-caretta nesting grounds in the Mediterranean.

    Laganas Bay in Zakynthos is already protected by a 1990 presidential decree defining zoning restrictions on construction activity along the coast.

    A Commission-sponsored research project in 1993 concluded that the once- isolated beach on Laganas Bay and the SW Peloponnese are vital to the survival of the Caretta-caretta, which is facing extinction due to uncontrolled tourism development, illegal fishing, pollution, nest damage from road traffic as well as the illegal presence of speed-boats near its nesting areas.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Greece-France agreement on re-admission of illegals

    Athens, 16/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greece and France yesterday signed an agreement providing for the re- admission of illegal immigrants, a statement from the foreign ministry noted.

    The agreement was signed by secretary-general for European Union Affairs Stelios Perrakis and France's charge d'affaires in Athens, Michel Vandepoorter.

    The agreement is part of the bilateral framework of cooperation governed by the Schengen Pact and is the second Greece has signed with an EU member- state.

    Greece implements the Schengen Pact - which lifts checks on internal borders between many European Union states - into full effect on Jan. 1, 2000.

    Athens News Agency

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